India-Pakistan: September 10, 2002

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Pakistan's president Musharraf, visiting the US, called for educated, expatriate Pakistanis to return and help reform Pakistan. That's a tall order. Pakistan is still a feudal society, based on a few families holding most of the land and commercial enterprises. Little is spent on education and Islamic religious leaders are allowed to run thousands of religious schools (that teach scripture and hatred of non-Moslems and little else.) Corruption is rampant and about a third of the population live under the rule of tribal chiefs. India, on the other hand, bought or seized the feudal estates after the British left in 1947 and distributed the land more widely. Corruption is much lower and education more common in India. Moreover, religious tolerance works better in India. Educated Pakistanis know of these differences, but are largely paralyzed by fear of personal loss and reluctant to undertake any extensive reform. Musharraf is trying to push through the kind of reforms needed, but his prospects do not look good. The opposition is too formidable. But Musharraf says that if changes are not made, the Islamic world and the West will continue to grow apart, with the Islamic nations sinking further into poverty and violence.

 

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